Monday, December 5, 2011

First Look at WOF 2012

As promised I wanted to move from 2011 to 2012 and take a first look at what is in store for next spring. At ACE Coaster Christmas we invited parks from the region to present for the upcoming season. Since the ACE Heart of America Region spans Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas we had a great turn out, and included presenters from Worlds of Fun, Six Flags St. Louis, Schlitterbahn Vacation Village and Silver Dollar City (of course).

Now since this IS a Worlds of Fun blog, I wanted to start with Worlds of Fun. But as I am the writer of said blog, and what I says goes (right out the window), I will also discuss the other parks too.

So Worlds of Fun. Now we all knew going into this that this will not be a year of big rides. However, for me sometimes that's not a bad thing. We saw how this year the gate area was transformed with the addition of the Grand Carousel and Festhaus II. Concrete, wood, and non-moving attractions may not look exciting on a press release, but certainly make a big statement to guests in the park. Like I mentioned in my previous blog, rides bring guests in one time, atmosphere brings them back.

First here's Brandon

Next Here is THE slide.

So what's on the slide...

1. Caribou Coffee, which appears it is replacing Plaza Gifts. To be honest I wouldn't be at all surprised if Baltic Bazaar was completely demo'd and a new structure re-built. While it would be mildly depressing to loss the structure, as long as the new structure is somewhat themed, I'm okay with this. From my experience many years ago working merchandising in the area, back in the 90's the structure was in bad shape. I can't imagine the situation has improved.

Here is some info on Caribou Coffee:

2. It also looks like another dining option will be located near Caribou Coffee. Though Brandon could not share any more specific details except that it involves barbeque and a local bbq chain...

3. As far as Scandinavian merchandise, the old Scandi Skees will be pr-emptied by merchandise and become a retail store instead of an arcade. Probably a good idea as the few times I have stuck my head inside there were less then half a dozen guests inside. It seems a good size for a retail store, much more so then Plaza Gifts, and seeing how Retail has handled the renovation of various other stores throughout the park I think the outlook looks positive.

4. Haunt Expansion. You would have to be living under a rock these last five to six years not to realize just how big Halloween Haunt has become. So it comes as no surprise that Worlds of Fun is making plans to expand Halloween Haunt. Brandon stated that the plans are for another permanent structure (like Dollhouse and Slaughterhouse). No specific ideas on location per say, but the story line should revolve around high school zombies. Night of the Living Dead... lives again.

5. Wacky Worm incorporation into Planet Snoopy. Well it looks like the rumors about the worm moving up the hill were right. Woodstock's Express (Too Too Train) is history, with Wacky Worm taking its place. No official word on if it will receive a new name, but it does sound like it will receive some much deserved love.

6. ADA, many updates to the park in regards to the American Disability Act. Making restrooms, queue lines, etc more accessible. To silence the few rumors out there about Viking Voyager receiving the axe, Viking Voyager looks like it will be with us for many more years. A very good thing, as those Arrow Flumes are a vanishing breed all by themselves.

7. Fast Lane, the Front of the Line Pass that the park tried out during Halloween Haunt this year will be expanded to the regular season. Brandon mentioned that 10 rides, spanning thrill rides to family rides will receive the Front of the Line pass.

8. Live Entertainment. Probably one of the more exciting developments. Over the past few years we have seen tentative steps for the park to bring back a few of its old stand-by's, concerts, festivals and now possibly the train robbery. Yes, the old Train Robbery may be returning after an almost 20 year hiatus. The park will also be developing various additional midway entertainment, jugglers, street performers, etc.

9. Infrastructure. While Brandon did mention that most of the infrastructure improvements would focus on Oceans of Fun, he did also mention that all newly renovated areas will feature the same paving stones used in Planet Snoopy.

Moving on beyond Worlds of Fun, we return to our first presenter and host, Silver Dollar City. General Manager of Silver Dollar City Brad Thomas spoke of the 2012 season and its upcoming festivals. I have to apologize as I did not keep detailed notes as far as the details. I do remember the Blue Grass and BBQ festival sounded fun, and tasty. :)

Of course the big news was his teaser at the end. He mentioned that if we should come back for Coaster Christmas next year... that there would be some exciting news to talk about. Hmmmm..... sounds very interesting. Coaster Christmas next year (unless things change) is tentatively scheduled for Saturday December 1. Mark your calendars.

Next up was Chris Ozimek from Schlitterbahn Kansas City, KS. He spoke about several new attractions that will be opening for Spring 2012. I have to say though I may not like the totally dark waterslide (yes I will admit I am afraid of the dark), the 3,000 foot rapids ride sounds like a great time. For a look at the entire line up of new attractions for Schlitterbahn Kansas City, KS for 2012 check out their website:

One important aspect of Schlitterbahn parks that Chris mentioned but bears repeating for those that havent experienced it, is the Schlitterbahn concept of transportainment. Where instead of having to get out of the water and moving by foot to the next aqua attraction, at Schlitterbahn guests can float to and from all of the various attractions. We have talked about it for three years, it looks like for 2012 the concept will become a reality.

Our last presenter was Mike Neace from Six Flags St. Louis. Mike was able to discuss the new attraction to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor next year, the Bonzai Pipeline.

You can read a little bit more about it here:

I would recommend watching the video, it looks completely insane. I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole.... Reminds me a bit of the first generation drop towers.

Overall it was a good time, and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves that attended. I look forward to seeing everyone next year for the 9th Annual ACE Coaster Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

End of Season Review 2011

You know I had meant to write up an end of the season review, right after the park closed... Then life intervened as it often does. I debated quite a bit over the last 2-3 weeks about whether to write this blog, but finally decided to do so, after talking with a friend about it.

This blog will be a little bit different then previous blogs, it will be a little bit personal, which is quite unusual for me. First a little respective. has been online since November 1997, when I originally started the website as a free TRIPOD personal site, mostly as just a repository from some of the old WOF stuff I had discovered over the previous few years. But, to tell my story and make my point I have to go farther back then that. See in 1995 I had one of my first chances to get to know my father. Amazingly, though I had not grown up with him as most have, we had quite a bit in common. This included an interest in Worlds of Fun. My father had first worked at the park in 1973, on the Cotton Blossom, as a cook for the Paddlewheel Cafe. He had many great stories to tell, including my favorite being his joke about the "60 Somewhat new and Slightly exciting things to do" (the original tag line for WOF was "60 Brand New and Exciting Things to do").

More importantly to you my dear reader was on a Friday in 1995, he took me to the 4th floor of the Downtown Kansas City Library, known even today as the Missouri Valley Room. It is an amazing treasure trove for anything related to KC history. It was there, on that day that I first saw my VERY FIRST 1973 souvenir map. I was so excited, as there were the attractions that I rode as a child that were already removed by 1995. I made a black and white photo copy of that map, and it hung on my bedroom door for years. I was hooked. Worlds of Fun had turned from an interest, into a complete obsession. I have my dad to thank for that. That and much more.

Sadly, at the age of only 54 my father passed from this life two weeks ago.

I am not writing this blog to dwell on that sobering fact. At first, when reviewing old photos, and thinking about moments in the past, I had almost decided NOT to write an end of season review. After all rotting wood, chipping paint etc is not all that important when taken in the grand scheme of things.

Then I remembered one of my last conversations about WOF with my dad. About the carousel. About how he questioned how a American carousel fit into the theme of Scandinavia, and I remembered how he always used to poke fun at me with the Scandinavian yoddeling music... And I knew I had to write that end of season review.

All year I have been trying to find an argument for just WHY the themed music was important. Nothing I could come up seemed to really hit to nail on the head as to why it was so important to so many of us. When I seriously started thinking about this blog the very first thing I did was go to YouTube (don't we all love YouTube?) and found this...

For those unitiated, this was one of those pieces of music played in Scandinavia for years. Yes, it is a German Beer Drinking Song. I almost cried the moment I heard it. I had flashes of watching the boats drop down into the final flume on Voyager, of the silver maple trees at the front of the park turning yellow in the fall. I realized it doesn't just matter if the music fits the theme, but more importantly the memories it creates. I listen to the music and I remember intangible aspects and moments in time. It's like when I was kid I loved driving through NKC and smelling the bread baking at the Tasty Bread Factory. You could always smell it and I loved driving by for that reason. Those smells, just like the music at Worlds of Fun created wonderful vivid memories. Same thing with the Zinger and Express, it wasn't just the steel, or the concrete, but the memories those rides created.

Now no one can ask the park to bring those rides back. However, I don't think it is to out of line to ask to bring the music back. Please don't let the music, and the memories the music created... die.

So I ask the park one more time... Memories are too important to replace with the hot pop hit of the moment. Let those millions of people that have streamed through the gate have this one memory and keep it alive. Please don't let YouTube be the only way to remember our childhood memories.

And that's all I have to say about that.

As I mentioned that was a much more emotional argument then I usually make. There is a reason for that. The music, the crazy, zany, some may say weird themed music can evoke an emotional response, because of the memories it created. While its true guests will visit the park occasionally for the fact that it has great rides, but they will be return, loyal visitors to revisit their memories. If the park continues to remove the atmosphere, and hence the memories, they WILL lose loyal visitors. I guarantee it. Yes, over music.

There were many times this season I didn't want to stay at the park because it didn't feel this same this year, simply because of the music. For the first time it didn't feel like Worlds of Fun. If I feel that way, others will too I promise. I can also promise no one will come say... lets go to Worlds of Fun because they heard the goo goo dolls over the PA system. It IS just that simple.

So here again is my compromise. Bring back the themed music to the midways, but play popular music in the queue lines. After all queue lines are B.O.R.I.N.G. and could be tolerated better with popular music. After all Cedar Point put D.J's in their queue lines to entertain would-be-riders and many of those riders remember it to this day as an enjoyable experience. And isn't that the WHOLE point?

There were other things this season though that definitely had a more positive spin. Others have mentioned it (on Facebook) but I think kudos should be given to landscaping. Now if I had wrote this at the beginning of the season I would have had to disagree, landscaping started off looking rather dismal. However, thanks to a boost in staff it quickly recovered and the park ended up looking pretty nice this season.

Lovely Cacti Garden... with Lantana in the foreground.

I just had to include this it was so pretty... (Yes this was shot at WOF)

A potted flowering plant in Africa. I have no idea what type of plant this is, but the flowers are quite pretty.

I have to say my favorite part this year (as Jeff can attest to) was the American Cactus garden. The cactus garden was a staple at the park for years, and made its reappearance just last year. I was rather surprised that the cacti survived so well despite I am sure just a few rambunctious children.

A pine near Cyclone Sam's, succumbing to disease... sad.

Of course there were a few loses in the landscaping department this year too, namely many of the parks pines. As those more heavily involved in the landscaping field can probably attest to, the last few years have seen the spread of a deadly pine disease, that is virtually unstoppable and kills pines in a matter of weeks...

Many new trees recently planted near the new Festaus.

As kuddos to the park though there were just as many trees PLANTED this year. Plus, from what I have heard many of the dead pines will be replaced by other much more resistant species, which is good to hear. Just say no to the concrete jungle!

Of course themed music and landscaping are important to a park experience. One only has to look as far as your typical Six Flags park to realize that... However, one has to be honest and realize that most people come to the park for RIDES. Unfortunately, in the rides department the park did not fair favorably. There were some bright spots and I will get to those. First let me start out though, this will not be a tirade about Planet Snoopy rides opening late. While we all like to see attractions opening on time, weather is not always within a parks control.

Thunderhawk... about how it looked for most of the season.

However, certain other aspects ARE within the parks control. Thunderhawk for instance? Ouch... It didn't open for the season until FIVE months after the park had opened. Yes Huss Rides (Thunderhawk's manufacturer) is in Germany, however lets not forget the memo that the park was closed for six months. That means Thunderhawk went almost a full year without operating.

Another sore spot that the average guest many not always realize directly, but they will realize with the time in line.. is capacity. Prowler and Timberwolf didn't get their second train in operation until the almost two months after the park opened. For me atleast, that seems inexcusable. ESPECIALLY when your new attractions aren't open either.

So looking at this from your average guests point a view... They have to wait in line double the time they normally would (a 5 minute line becomes 15-20 minutes, or a 15-20 minute line becomes 30-45 minutes), PLUS over half of the family/children's area is still under construction, over a month into park operating season.

And no I'm not even done. There is one ride that I have failed to mention this year, or even the past several years. I should have. But I HOPED the park would remedy the issue, plus in the grand scheme of things its not a top billed ride. Autobahn. Or more appropriatly Der Fender Bender. (Yes and I am one of those people that still call it Forum Road). In this situation a picture is worth a thousand words....

Der Fender Bender in its early years (late 70's)

Same ride, but different name, now the Autobahn circa 2011

I am sorry... there is no way to sugar coat this. YUCK. Here are the options that I can see... Fix it, or Replace it. Sometime soon. Seriously you operate with only 7 cars? 7?!?! The park operates with 7 because the ride will not operate with fewer then that, and that is the reason it runs with 7 because it can.

The problem is there is way WAY to much patch fixing. Fix it enough that it will work (somewhat), or fix it to the minimum that it can operate, and leave it be. Until it breaks again. Autobahn falls in this category, so does Le Taxi Tour, (8 Cars are you serious?), and even Fury of the Nile. I refuse to ride Nile anymore, its not even a shadow of the ride it was in 1984. I primarily believe because of "easy" fixes. Yes the ride is safe, yes the ride operates, but is it fun? Or have the cheap fixes, just enough to keep the ride running safely, also had a negative impact on the overall ride experience? In other words has the ride ceased being fun? If you have to even think about that question then there is something seriously wrong.

Yes, that was painful. But you know it really needed to be said. For those that don't think it should be said, I welcome you to step into the park as a guest, and experience some of the rides and experiences I just mentioned, and not get frustrated.

Planet Snoopy... The old thought process with parks was to paint with garish colors so that guests would notice the new paint... (atleast that was the thought at Cedar Point in the 30's and 40's) well it worked.... and I actually really like the bright colors.

With that being said there were some very good experiences with rides this season too. Truthfully. Planet Snoopy for instance, not only did it double the number of Planet Snoopy rides, allowing children and parents to ride together, but it's also really nice looking! I can't even begin to tell you the times we headed to Planet Snoopy to find that's where the crowds were! Plus, it looked so fresh and clean, sparklingly so. I have admitted this once, but Planet Snoopy is easily one of the best looking children's areas in the entire almost 40 years of Worlds of Fun's existence.

The other big addition was the Illions Carousel. Now I understand no one in this area seems to get as excited about this as I do, but most will agree that it made the entrance plaza look about a million times better. For those that know me I might ask that you take a seat before I make my next comment. Cedar Fair did an exceptional job, exceptional. There was not a single corner cut with this project, and there were several ways they could have done so... They didn't have to completely restore the carousel, they didn't have to use REAL gold in the horses manes and tails, and most importantly they REALLY didn't have to restore the band organ. Most people may not realize this, but Worlds of Fun now has the only working band organ of the entire Cedar Fair chain, and folks it doesn't take both hands to count the operating band organs in parks across the country. They are rare, amazing creations that simply can't be reproduced by all but the most amazing sound systems in the world.

My drool moment is officially over. But seriously it is something that should be appreciated. Last comment and I will move on... but wouldn't that band organ music sound SO much better with Scandinavian music in the background as opposed to modern... errr... music playing instead? Yes I won't give up.

Of course the end of the season wrapped up with Halloween Haunt, the park's premier event for the season. There is no way of getting around the fact that Halloween Haunt is one of the park's best ideas in the last decade. It certainly brings folks in that's for sure, and that is a GREAT thing. I love seeing the crowds, and yes, even parking in the grass. What can I say I am weird. However I have to wonder why the park isn't exploiting the rest of the season? April thru September? I really think that festivals (and concerts) during the summer could turn out crowds just as big as October. After all they did it in the past, and its been proven that there are just as many people today that will come to the park.

There's not much to say about the Haunts that hasn't already been said. They were all quite good, but definitely there was a degree of improvement from the beginning of Halloween Haunt to the end on Oct 30th. One aspect I want to comment on is the Front of the Line Passes (FOL). Honestly I was skeptical about this idea. I have seen how well (or not so well I should say) they have worked at Cedar Point and Six Flags in the past. Not too well. However, I will be honest from what I saw there were no mass protests about FOL passes from stand-by guests (those without FOL passes). Overall it seemed those that used the passes were satisfied, the price wasn't obnoxious and I am sure it made the park money.

Some who read my comments may think that I am positively against the park making money. That all I want is the park to spend itself into a hole fixing everything, and forget about real life, and the fact that the park is a business. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reason I make the comments I do is that I want the park to prosper, not just this year, but next year, ten years from now... on and on. I want the park to bring in record profits, because it lets them invest in the park for the future. So when I see them making changes like Front of the Line passes, I don't express concern because the park is making money off of it (which is great), but because I see a concern that guests might be turned off by the idea. So far that is not the case, which is great.

However, it is one thing I think should be handled with caution. Think about a point a made earlier about reduced capacity on Prowler with only one train for the first two months. Guests are frustrated with a long wait now, how will they feel about an instituted Front of the Line program? If capacity issues are dealt with at the same time that Front of Line is instituted, I don't for see a huge problem. Otherwise, it could be. Just a word of caution FOL looks like a cash cow, it probably is, but long term quality guest experience should NEVER, EVER be traded for a quick dollar now.

So now it is the off season. Its getting cold, but next year it looks like we should see some great infrastructure improvements. My next blog post will look at that in more detail, and hopefully over the next few months we will have some photos to share with you. Until then, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and merry christmas!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Screams of the Past

I apologize to everybody for not getting these photos up earlier but I have FINALLY starting getting over a miserable cold... that might explain why I don't recall much from last Sunday either... Combination Dayquil and Afrin I think :)

Anyway, so on with the blog. As many of you know a friend of mine Randal Strong-Wallace, built some pretty cool models and pretty realistic models of the coasters of Worlds of Fun from 1980. That is all the coasters that are now permanently removed from Worlds of Fun. (May they rest in pieces).

Last Sunday, the models opened at Union Station as part of a permanant exhibit, entitled "Screams of the Past". They were joined by a few of our own coaster artifacts and displays. Overall I was pretty impressed with the exhibit and am thrilled to see any exhibit that celebrates the park's past. I think sometimes its easy to forget this, but there are so many rides at so many parks that have just been all but completely forgotten... a true travesty if there was one. Its these types of exhibits, as well as this website, and more in the future hopefully that will keep these great rides, and more important, the memories they created, alive.

I really recommend anyone in the area to try to check out the exhibit. Right now it will definitely be onsite for the next year, possibly longer. The exhibit is FREE, and does NOT require admission to Science City. Though it will only be manned and operating during regular Science City Operating Hours. It is located near the entrance to Science City.

Here are a few photos from the opening of the exhibit.

Randal is to the right, and the guy in the suit, is Matt Christopher Asst Director of Science City. . Behind Randal you can see the Orient Express "dragon logo" projected as a go behind on the wall. Pretty cool if you ask me.

The Zinger, still without a working lift, but that should be coming soon.

The Orient Express, to the right you can also see a few of our "pieces" of Orient Express on display. As far as we are aware the track rail is one of only two pieces left of genuine Orient Express track rail.

Our little showcase, I was given this area by Randall to set up a mini-exhibit of my own. I though for awhile on what the focus should be. In the end I was inspired by the Walt Disney quote "You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality" and created a display as tribute to the Worlds of Fun Ambassadors.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Halloween Haunt Fourth Weekend Review

Who knows what possessed us to go out on a busy Saturday... but we did. I think I wanted to see crowds at the park, while not having to work with them... Its a nice warm and fuzzy feeling, crowds at Worlds of Fun. So we arrived about 5PM, and found that we had to park our nice new car in the grass....

Of course we would have normally parked in K lot, but K lot is currently occupied by new Fords.

It was definitely pretty busy for sure. So we had to figure out what our plans were. In the end we decided to ride the train and then head back for Overlords Awakening..

The Overlord climbs in the sky....

Calling out the beasts of the darkness...

Not exactly the first person you would want to meet in a dark alley...

Next we headed to see Meat Cleaver High at the Moulin Rouge. I enjoyed this show as always...

You gotta love this guy! I believe he also did the Vincent Price "Thriller" monologue, he did an amazing job.

The gratuitous "She Blinded Me With Science" scene.

A new addition this year to Meat Cleaver High is this "Toxic" scene. Yes it really was THIS DARK. I really enjoyed all the lighting effects used though.

No halloween show is complete without "Devil in the Blue Dress"...

More photos of Meat Cleaver High can be found on Facebook

This Friday we are planning on getting some good photos of Midget Wrestling. We tried on Saturday but it was SRO for the first time I have ever seen at Country Junction!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Halloween Haunt Third Weekend Review

Halloween Haunt kicked off once again just two weeks ago, for its full time, Friday/Saturday schedule. Jeff and I took some time to visit these last 2 weeks, and finally last Friday night we were able to complete a full circuit of all the different attractions. Its a nice opportunity as we don't have to worry about working those incredibly busy Saturday nights... Instead I get to sit at home, in a warm, non-moving, non-screaming environment and write this little blog.

Our first evening, 1 week ago we got there right in time for The Overlords Awakening. It wasn't to busy so we were able to grab a pretty good view. Sorry no photos. I have a new point and shoot Sony camera, and "thought" I had video recorded it. Obviously not... learning curve I guess.

Personally I have always been pretty impressed with this mini-show. Atleast within the constraints of the show. Obviously we would all love a larger location for monsters/guests to gather, however within the space available it works pretty well. I do think the tape line/painted line to control crowds is a good idea too.

I had read the new Overlord was experiencing a learning curve, but I didn't notice much issue, and thought the actor did quite well.

Only complaint, is an ongoing one. Originally, prior to the parade idea, makeup was done at each haunt location. Asylum monsters had their makeup done at Coco Palms Pavilion, etc etc. The End product, aka the makeup was MUCH MUCH better. Now it seems half-hearted. Most may not notice, but having been a screamster under the old way and new way, I can definitely attest that the old way was better. Why can't the park keep the one makeup trailer, and also use the old Creature Crypt, aka basement of All Stars? It would work wouldn't it? After all they could simply come up the stairs for the Overlords awakening? Do half in the current spot and half in the Creature Crypt. Just a thought.

After Overlord's Awakening, began the brief, but unique Monster Parade.

Before starting out your journey into the various mazes, guests can purchase a "Fright Lane" front of the line pass. Probably worth it for a busy Saturday... not so much for the Fridays... as of yet. This is just one of the locations to purchase a Fright Lane pass. Located in front of the Grand Carrousel.

So on with the reviews... In no particular order.

Lore of the Vampire
Overall I was fairly impressed with the step up in theming/character interaction over previous years. I actually had a few good startles, however for me watching the guests around me ended up providing the most entertainment. The Graveyard, appeared to receive the most treatment. It finally seems to work as a graveyard instead of being simply an outside walkway/mishmash between one segment of Lore to another. I was really impressed with the combination acting, such as the monster that appeared to be climbing out of the ground, zombie-style, and the scaring. Many monsters appeared to be using the well placed hiding spots, and numerous distractions to their overwhelming advantage.

Love the characters here. (Even though my photography stinks). The actors REALLY get their teeth sunk into their parts...

Definitely worth the wait for me. I still don't care for the "Club Blood" in the basement. I understand the concept.. but it doesn't seem even slightly scary/morbid etc, more odd and out of place. I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion but dancing poles and jello shots (or whatever it is) just doesn't jive with a medieval vampire theme... AT ALL.

Overall Grade... 6/10

I have never seen this attraction with a line, so it was a quick walk in/walk out attraction. Unlike the past though, I didn't feel like the 5-10 minutes I felt walking around inside a complete waste of time. The monsters here really seemed to be in on the action, as opposed to standing around that we have seen in years past. I saw several great startles. I saw several great opportunities being utilized. The deranged rabbit was staked out in such a way that you couldn't tell if it was another stuffed prize or not.

This kangaroo looks familiar....

Carnevil seems to also be the dumping ground for past attractions. The Bounce-A-Roo's have reappeared as well as the old cars and motorcycles from Micro Moto Bahn. Atleast this means I am not ending up with a giant fiberglass Kangaroo for my backyard...

This one looks familiar too...
Overall on Carnevil, if it doesn't have a line, or much of one definitely worth the time.

Overall Grade... 6/10

Oh Great Demoted One.... One of the street characters. This was originally the character that lead the monster parade before the introduction of the overlord.

Outlaw's Revenge
I spent some time staking out this attraction, for me the best part of Outlaws is people watching. Personally, I REALLY REALLY REALLLLYYYY dislike the fact that the old paddy wagon was moved to London Terror. It was such a great place for the cowboys to hide.

Soapbox alert!
Why is it that with every new haunt, all the outside decorations are borrowed and never returned? For example the dog house, and fencing at Asylum, or Chicken coops, and barnyard area from Bloodshed? Now the paddywagon from Outlaws....

Off my soapbox

Maybe I'm just hard on them, (Jeff seems to think so), but I saw a LOT of standing around. It seems like in the past the issues with Outlaws was lack of cowboys. Now it seems like there are just enough, but only a few were really getting into the fun of it. Now it is a physically demanding job, I get that. But please, try to scare me. Thanks

One last comment, I do really like the props that the sliders are using. For example the metal trash can lids. Makes a great grating noise, and I really see an opening for more metal props... putty knives, etc.

A "saloon girl" hanging out... Nice costume... but where is the make-up? Is there any there at all?

Overall Grade... 4/10

London Terror
New for this year is London Terror, replacing Dominion of Doom on the Heart of America Blvd/Forum Rd. The entrance has been moved FROM the Mamba side, TO the Americana side. The entrance is near Detonator.

London Terror was basically what I expected it to be. A tribute to London at the dawn of the industrial revolution, complete with various shady characters, jack the ripper, werewolves etc. I missed the whole steampunk theme, if it was there it just wasn't really obvious. Overall though I really enjoyed the theming, with cramped alleyways, fog, snow (thankfully fake for the time being...). Even the 2nd half, which was composed of mainly old Dominion of Doom tombstones worked better. With the monoliths compacted, and arranged haphazardly, it created a environment more conducive to scaring. What I didn't see was a lot of was actual scaring. It looks like London Terror has fallen prey to the WOF Halloween Haunt tradition where new attractions feature more acting then scaring. Seriously walking around right in front of me, speaking to me in a lovely British accent is somewhat cool, but not in the least bit scary. And that's what everyone is there for. There is a lot of London here, but not a whole lot of Terror.

Overall Grade... 5/10

Both Bloodshed and Dollhouse have always seemed to struggle since the years that they opened. Thankfully Bloodshed has always improved before the end of the season. It seems like the monsters (like London Terror) focus more on acting then they do scaring. With that being said there were one or two good startles. The monster manning the "monster pig", seemed to really know how to work it well. I was surprised and startled a bit as I wasn't expecting it... atleast not where it was at. I think the cramming it into a narrow walkway/corner, works better, as you have to swerve out of the pigs way! I also noticed a significant decrease in fog, yes even fog INSIDE of houses really adds a lot to the thrill. See my Asylum review.

I have always thought Bloodshed has had a great story line, but has always struggled with the actual portrayal, and development of said storyline. Hopefully, like past years it will pick up in quality of startles/scaring before the end of the season.

Overall Grade... 5/10

Asylum Island
There is no other way to say this... Asylum kicked all the other houses BUTTS. Seriously. If you are considering with house to wait in line for... pick this one. It did start out a bit slow I have to say, but it really picked up especially at the Green Mile (hallway with various entrances and exits for monsters). I seriously didn't even know I had hit the Green Mile until I was halfway through it, it was fogged up so much. And boy where the monsters using it to their benefit. Once we got to The Yard, I just wanted to get out of the place, in a good way! Of course after exiting we stood around and watched. After all the best part of any of these attractions for us, is watching others expressions. There were a lot of scared guests running out of the house that night! Great job.

We also noticed the well designed queue line, and prepped 1, 2, and 3 hour wait signs. It seems like the park is prepping for crowds a good sign to see.

Overall Grade... 8/10

A few of the 1hr, 2hr and 3hr (YIKES!) waiting signs. Not being used this friday night though... thank goodness.

Master McCarthy's Dollhouse
You know what I really miss about this attraction? The first time we ever experienced it it had "It's a Small World" playing as part of its sound track. To this day I stand behind my comment that that was one of the scariest things I have ever heard. I never thought I would say this but bring the Small World back! :)

With that being said, Dollhouse has always had some glaring weaknesses. Number #1 for me, dolls are just not the scary. Weird? Yes. Creepy? Definitely YES! Scary...errr not really. I'm not really sure what can be done about that fact. I did miss the character Master McCarthy as well. Maybe he just wasn't there that night. For those trying out Halloween Haunt McCarthy's is a good starter attraction, as its design is similar to the other haunts, but lacks that truly terrifying element, or should I say ABILITY to be truly terrifying.

Overall Grade... 3/10

I was rather surprised that Cornstalkers was such a disappointment. It really has so much potential to be truly terrifying. Last year I had some pretty good trips through this attraction. Not so much this time. I am wondering if that was due to our visit being on a Friday night. Unfortunately Friday lacks pure numbers when it comes to monsters and talent. I was especially surprised with the several corn/grass covered characters simply hanging around, or walking up and down the corn mazes... It seems to lose the point of being able to blend in when you are doing just the opposite. Blend in and hide is the point, and it seems lost of some of the monsters here.

Not to beat a dead horse but it depresses me so much that Cornstalkers has so much POTENTIAL. Seriously walking through a dark, twisting cornfield, confined by browned branches, the breeze ruffling the dried expect a deranged man to come running out with a chain saw. Maybe that's what was missing?

Nice bunny...

I really did like the queue line character, is it still Pig Man? He had a pet rabbit while there... the pet rabbit wasn't exactly quite tame.

Overall, I would still recommend people visit Cornstalkers. I have seen several good reviews this year, so I am simply assuming we hit it at a bad time.

Overall Grade... 5/10

Jennifer's Worlds of Fun Critique Rest Stop... We noticed that a few of the queue rails (okay ALL of them) have been removed from the Nile Queue line. Whats' going on here?

Fright Zone
Seriously with the short period of time we spent in the fright zone I was impressed by the qualify of some of the characters. One character stood out specifically, I really loved the character on the roller blade (ONE roller blade... I never could skate in both of them!) very sneaky, and after all that's what we all want in this type of attraction. Saw lots of great startles, lots of characters taking advantage of the fog banks... Sorry for such a short review.

Overall Grade...6/10

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Passing of A Legend

Ron Toomer

Tonight, just a few minutes after arriving back from a trip from Branson... I heard the sad news of the passing of a legend. Ron Toomer.

Some of you reading this may not know who Ron Toomer was. There is the unfortunate fact that many coasters are know by their names, occasionally their manufacturers, and rarely their designers. Only are the greatest designers remembered. Ron Toomer was one of those.

Ron Toomer was designer at Arrow Dynamics from the 60's until his retirement in 2000. During that time he quite literally designed the modern steel roller coaster. Starting with Six Flags over Texas Runaway Mine Train, to the birth of the modern hyper coaster Magnum XL 200. Of course his primary contribution to Worlds of Fun's history itself was his design of the famed Orient Express.

In the days before computers, when coasters where designed by pencil and paper instead, Ron Toomer looked no further then a wire coat hanger as his means for designing the steel monsters of the 1980's and 90's. One has to remember that before Orient Express there were really only 2 ways to go upside down on a coaster. The Loop and the Corkscrew. With Orient Express, Ron Toomer introduced the first inversion to the modern patheon of inversions, on Orient Express it was known as the Kamikaze Kurve, today it is known as the Boomerang element. This tight, twisted pretzel roll inversion shocked riders from its inception, all the way to its final end in 2003. Orient Express, and its designer Ron Toomer lead the way into the modern world of coasters with inversions and twists with the names of zero-g rolls, cobra rolls, immelmanns, and batwings.

The Boomerang (Kamikaze Kurve) on Orient Express

Coasters with the names of Shockwave, Great American Scream Machine, Big Bad Wolf, and the still operating Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain are all a testament to Ron Toomer's genius.

Magnum XL-200 at Cedar Point. A similar appearance to Mamba is not inconsequential.

Ron Toomer's legacy at Worlds of Fun wouldn't begin and end with Orient Express either. In 1989, one his biggest contributions to the roller coaster world opened. Magnum XL-200. At a towering 200 feet tall it became the worlds first hypercoaster. Nine years later, Mamba, a coaster derived from the roots of Magnum began towering over Kansas City's own Worlds of Fun. Mamba, may have not been designed by Ron Toomer, however the technology found in Mamba, could not have been achieved had not 10 years earlier, a man had not came up with the idea of a coaster that towered to the sky. That man was Ron Toomer, and though he may have passed from this world, his visions have not. One more good reason to go out and ride a coaster this weekend.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A NEW Northland Attraction!

Yes I know folks it has been a little bit longer then I expected for an update. However, truth be told it took me a LONG LONG time to scan everything you will be seeing over the next few months. A friend of ours, Bill Valiant was able to borrow a whole box of goodies from Hunt Midwest storage. I cant begin to tell you which felt better, seeing tons of old WoF stuff I have never seen before, or hearing that Hunt didn't throw anything away... (THANK GOODNESS!)

I'll get back to you on that.

I just shared with you the first page of my favorite "find". If you scroll down you will find the rest of the 7 pages of a promotional newspaper insert that ran I believe in the Clay County Dispatch Tribute only a few days after Worlds of Fun had its 1973 Grand Opening.

A lot of it is self congratulatory, advertisements from various vendors involved with park construction. Personally though, I think the ads are part of the interest.

However, if you take the time to read the articles, which I highly recommend by the way, there are a lot of good historical tidbits to be found and discovered. You can read each page by right clicking on it, and opening each image in a separate window or tab.

Page two, If you are going to read any of this, don't miss the Jack Steadman story... it explains quite a bit... Including why the park rides had such err.. "unusual" names. Word to the wise, don't schedule "riding naming" meetings and beer drinking parties at the same time. That is unless you want to end up with rides named Schussboomer and Finnish Fling.

Ah look the park is supposed to be INTERNATIONALLY themed... I would have never realized that.... (sorry I couldn't help it)

Interesting article on the old Fins and Flippers Show...

Honestly, I never knew that there was a bus that was specifically for Worlds of Fun. Pretty neat idea. This page also has a great story on the Worlds of Fun Railroad, most of it is directly lifted from the Press Releases, but still some great stories in there, especially about how ELI got its name. It gives a much better explanation then I have been ever able to give...

If you don't know much at Cotton Blossom or Victrix... read about it here.

Best part of this? Viking Voyager with dragon head boats! Yes there is also a story there about the park shows at the time too.

And finally a word from our sponsors...

Hope you guys loved this as much as I did!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blast from the Past WOF Exhibit 2011

Wow... look at all the dust and cob webs... Oh well let me haul out my handy windex and paper towel and we shall be good as new and ready to go for some NEW and EXCITING blog posts...

yeahhhhh... I can just hear the excitement.

You know I really don't like photos of myself... however I have to take the opportunity to show the cool sign Brandon (FINALLY!) made for us. And think... it only took 3 years!

Randal Scott and his Project 31 also co-partnered with me for this year's exhibit. For those who haven't yet seen his coaster models, I believe they should be at Union Station on permanent exhibit starting in October. Definitely check out his website

The headliner for the show was the display of part of the EXT (stand up) car.

Another new addition this year was the display of our 1980-1981 off season aerial photo. It had sat curled up in a tube for years, and we were happy to finally get it scanned, printed, and mounted for view!

For those that have seen previous incarnations of the exhibit this should look pretty familiar. This year I was able to organize some of the brochures, newspaper clippings, etc, and put them better on display. So you can see a copy of the 1973 brochure on display in front. To the far right is the Zinger structural support.

After being asked about various non-coasters over the years I decided to create displays for the various themed worlds, and picked the two with the largest collection of unique non-coaster rides... Scandinavia first. There is also a Schussboomer wheel on exhibit in front.

And Americana. On Saturday morning we received two new donations from a park employee. Seen here to the right is a cleat from the Cotton Blossom (tie off). May it rest in peace.

Orient Express corner, and there are lots of things to look at here. Starting from the corner, far left, is an Orient Express break shoe. Directly above that is a foam logo from the park's 10th anniversary, and 1977 souvenir map. To the right you can see an Orient Express chain link, coaster rail, road wheel, and anti-rollback trough. The small can in the center? An Orient Express Survival Kit. From the label it appears it was given out as part of the Media Kit for Orient Express.

So what's inside? Well we don't really know as it was never opened. Ahhh mint condition!

Special Thanks to Bill Valliant, for providing the Orient Express Survival Kit, 10th Anniversary Logo, and more from the Hunt Midwest Archive. Thank goodness they didn't end in a landfill!

Rounding out with modern history. Moving from left to right. The large wooden stack, is an example of a wooden coaster track bed section (in this case actually from the Raven), 1989 souvenir map, and binder including Timberwolf construction photos.

Remember earlier when I said we received TWO donations? Well take a look at #2! Poor guy who donated this item received a loud, ear splitting girly scream from me on first glance. I wasn't the only one who never thought they would see one of these dragon heads ever again. For those that don't know, the Viking Voyager boats used to all sport red dragon heads, of which this is one of the few surviving examples.

Of course we were only half of the exhibit, the other half was filled with Project 31, or the Worlds of Fun coasters of 1980. Can you name all of them? Well here is the most grand, the Orient Express. Not to be confused with the Mamba. Which some still needed reminding... has no loops. Of course I guess you could say the two are related, in a second cousin, married to your sister in law, kind of way.

Here is a great YouTube video of the Express model running.

Brandon gifted both us some rather unique parting gifts... My favorite was some mini-caterpillar earth mover machines. We will let you use your imagination of what these scaled down machines are preparing to do...

So I will once again leave you, but hopefully this time not for as long. I have a box sitting on my loveseat, that is being scanned right now, and its full of fun (OLD) Worlds of Fun stuff, that I will happily share with you as soon as I am done, which shouldn't take too long....